How to Do Seated Calf Raises

woman doing seated calf raise at gym

The seated calf raise is a version of the machine calf raise, and it’s an exercise for isolating calves’ muscles.


As simple as it appears, the seated calf raise strengthens the muscles that not only make you a better runner but also help you walk and take the stairs. The stronger and better-conditioned your calves are, the more active they are for movement and balance. In other words, strong calves lead to a stronger, more efficient body.


For many people, the calves can be a resistant muscle group, so when performing calf raises, it’s crucial to try a variety of angles. You could also want to consider training the calves on a regular basis.

You may add the sitting calf raise into both leg and full-body workouts.

EXERCISE PROFILE 
Target Muscle GroupCalves
Exercise TypeStrength
Equipment RequiredSeated Calf Raise Machine
MechanicsIsolation
Force TypePush (Bilateral)
Experience LevelBeginner
Secondary MusclesNone
Image showing muscles emphasizes by seated leg curl machine
Credit: courses.lumenlearning.com/

How to Do a Seated Calf Raise

  • Place the balls of your feet on the platform with your toes pointed forward, and your heels will naturally hang off. Allow your hands to rest on top of the knee pad, with the base of your quads under it.
  • Release the safety bar when you extend your ankles.
  • Dorsiflex the ankles until the calves are fully stretched, then lower the heels.
  • Exhale as you flex your calves while extending your ankles.
  • Repeat for 16 to 18 reps.

Seated Calf Raise Benefits

Increased calf muscle strength and growth are two clear benefits of sitting calf raises. While this obviously alters the appearance of your legs, it also improves their performance. No leg workout can be deemed complete without focusing on calves

Your entire legs will work better if your calves are stronger. You improve your running and jumping abilities. Even simple things like walking and climbing stairs become far easier.

Because the soleus hooks into your ankle, this exercise can also help you avoid ankle injuries. It can also help you avoid injuries to your shins and knees.

Seated Calf Raise Variations

Free Weight Seated Calf Raise

Your gym may feature a seated calf raise machine, which is a great option, but seated calf raises can also be done with dumbbells, a barbell, and even household items such as gallon jugs or books. So, you can execute seated calf raises without a machine with a free weight like a dumbbell, a short or long barbell across the top of your thighs to perform the lower-leg movement.

Resistance Band Seated Calf Raise

A resistance band can also be used to perform seated calf lifts. Place the band across the top of your legs and secure the ends beneath your toes. To keep the band in place while performing the exercise, place your hands over it.

Seated Calf Raise Progressions

Try these progressions to make this move more difficult. They all use both free weights and machines in their execution

Increase The Weight

Adding extra resistance in terms of higher weight to your calf raises will ensure that you acquire greater strength. (progressive overload)

Pause at the Top

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), performing stationary (isometric) holds can enhance muscular growth by keeping the muscle active (aka: under tension) for longer.

Hold the lift for three to four seconds at the top of the motion before returning your heels to the floor.

Pro Tips

  • Slow and controlled repetitions are best. To emphasise the contraction, limit movement and pause at the top.
  • If you feel any stretch through the bottom of your foot during the workout, reduce the depth of your heels.
  • Rather than moving via the toes, try to move through the ball of your foot.
  • You can target different muscles of the calves by pointing your toes in or out while seated (the soleus and the gastrocnemius). The outer calves are targeted with seated calf raises with your toes pointed toward each other. Inner calves are targeted with seated calf raises with toes directed away from each other.

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